Greenpeace has got its knickers in a twist over the government’s decision not to include agriculture within the emissions trading scheme as part of reforms which the government says will help improve the operation of the scheme.
But Greenpeace registers “disbelief” that what it calls the country’s biggest polluter is still being excluded from the scheme.
Point of Order, noting the increasing stridency of Greenpeace lobbying on climate change, believes it reflects the organisation’s dismay that the Green Party is not doing its job (as Greenpeace sees it) on climate change.
Almost certainly Winston Peters, as leader of NZ First, put the kibosh on bringing agriculture into the ETS. He knows it would not only choke the country’s leading export industries but kill off any support NZ First has tried to win by portraying itself as the “saviour” of failing provincial economies.
Greenpeace says agriculture emits 49% of NZ’s emissions which have risen 12% since 1990.
“An emissions trading scheme without agriculture is a waste of time and will not be able to combat climate breakdown – the greatest threat human civilisation has ever faced.“
In its discussion document on the ETS changes, the Government says it is waiting for the Climate Commission to determine whether and how agriculture enters into the scheme.
Greenpeace argues there is no time to waste.
“NZ must urgently and substantially reduce emissions from the agriculture sector. Putting agriculture into the ETS is a no-brainer. We don’t have time to wait for the Climate Commission to get on with it.
“If we’ve got any chance at keeping this planet liveable for humanity, then the government has to take serious action against industrial livestock farming, starting now. Agriculture must be fully brought into the ETS, synthetic nitrogen fertiliser must be banned, cow numbers must be reduced, and there must be a massive government-led investment in regenerative farming. Anything less consigns future generations to hell on earth,”.
In August the Labour-led coalition proposed a range of amendments aimed at improving the price signals provided by the emissions trading scheme and simplifying its processes for foresters.
Among the key recommendations was the introduction of auctions, the ending of the current $25 a tonne cap and a proposal to phase down the allocation of free credits to trade-exposed industrial processors by 1 to 3 per cent annually.
This week the government confirmed the adoption of auctions for the emissions trading scheme will leave in place the $25 fixed-price option for next year.
Acting Climate Change Minister Julie Anne Genter said the move to auctions will help put a cap on the number of emission units available over time. Annual announcements, looking forward five years, will help provide certainty for scheme participants.
A cost-containment reserve, to operate as part of the auction scheme, will replace the current $25 price ceiling, or fixed-price option, once it is ready.
“The fixed price option for surrenders due in 2019 will continue to remain at $25 in order to maintain regulatory predictability. “We want the ETS reforms to be well-managed and well-signalled and this means keeping the FPO in place while those reforms go through.”
Spot NZ units last traded at $25.85. April 2019 contracts were at $26.25, rising to $29 for the April 2022 contract.
Forestry-specific measures include plans to integrate credits from permanent forests more explicitly in the ETS, to recognise the carbon stored in solid wood products and to simplify the accounting treatment of credits.
The introduction of auctions was part of a strategy to provide greater certainty of pricing by controlling the volume of units available and keeping prices consistent with those in other international markets.
Forestry Minister Shane Jones said the addition of permanent forests to the ETS will provide more incentives for landowners to integrate trees into their landscapes, and enable them to diversify their income while also providing long-term environmental benefits.
“We’re making good on our promise to encourage more forestry and make better use of land, especially on erosion-prone land.By establishing a permanent forest, with indigenous or exotic species, landowners will be able to better optimise their non-productive agricultural land and enjoy income from the sale of NZ units, while also increasing biodiversity and reducing erosion.”